Penny Ashby

Lady Kate
Narrabri, NSW

What do you make?

I design women’s knitwear that’s made from 100% Australian Merino wool.

What do you want customers to know about you and/or your work/product/business?

I started this label to make a new generation of Australian women fall in love with Merino wool. Australia has been producing top quality Merino wool for over 150 years, yet so many young women have no idea what this luxuriously soft fibre feels like. That’s kind of sad! I want all Aussie women to become passionate advocates for our home-grown fibre.

Where do you draw inspiration?

I’m lucky enough to have nature on my doorstep – wide-open skies, open plains, native scrub and the beautiful backdrop of the Nandewar ranges. These things influence the visual design of my knitwear, and the wool itself inspires me to create a garment that best shows off the wool’s traits – the softness, warmth or cosiness.

What are your hopes for your business/work/practice?

My family has been involved in the Australian wool industry for four generations and now I would like to continue that tradition through Lady Kate. I want Lady Kate to showcase Australian Merino wool to a new audience of women, so that they fall in love with this beautiful fibre and secure the future of our industry.

Where do you live? Tell us about your place/community

I live just outside of Narrabri in North Western NSW. To our west we have miles and miles of open, flat farmland and to our east we have the beautiful Nandewar ranges – a view I will never get sick of! We moved to Narrabri five years ago and were bowled over by how friendly and welcoming everyone was. We even had people inviting us to their Christmas parties because they heard we were new in town! It sounds like a cliché but that really is country hospitality at its finest.

What is it like making/creating from a rural/remote community? (are there particular challenges or joys?)

I used to think there were a lot of disadvantages to running a business like mine in a rural area – the internet is slow, the post is slow, there aren’t a lot of people who are qualified in ecommerce to hire – but over the past few years, and especially since covid, most of these difficulties have been overcome. 2020 has forced Australia into working ‘remotely’ and suddenly, rural businesses aren’t at a disadvantage anymore. More than that, we have the advantage of living in a beautiful area, surrounded by a resilient community to support us.

How has BFTB impacted your business?

BFTB helped me reach a huge audience of people who I wouldn’t have reached otherwise. The messages of support, love and encouragement from complete strangers gave me the confidence to back myself and to tell my story. Through BFTB my business has been able to grow from a passion project to a viable business and allowed me to continue doing what I love.

What does it mean to you when a customer decides to purchase your product? How do you celebrate?

I don’t think I will ever stop being excited when I hear that little ‘ka-ching’ on my phone that tells me I’ve sold a jumper! I gift wrap every order and write a note of thanks to the customer, because I think it’s the least I can do to show my appreciation of them choosing to spend money on my knits.

My Products

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